01 February 2011

What name have you given your child?

The Rite Baptism for a children begins with the priest or deacon asking the parents, "What name have you given your child?"

As parents opt for increasingly bizarre and "unique" or "cute" names for their children fewer parents have opted to name their children in honor the saints. Sometimes it is hard to tell from the name if the infant is a boy or a girl. Sometimes you wonder if the name might work well enough for the child while he or she is young, but what about when he or she has reached the 75th year of age? All too often it is becoming hard to see to which saint the child will look for an example in living the Christian life.

Now the name "Mary" does not even rank among the top 100 names given to girls in the USA; her name has fallen to the 102nd most popular name.

The name of "Joseph," however, remains strong as the 16th most popular name for boys.


  1. I shudder to think of what the world will be like with thousand of 80 year old Brittany's, Taylor's, Cody's, Jayden's and any other of those cutsey names. Picturing those names associated with wrinkles just makes me shudder.

  2. Does naming a child after a saint really predispose them to look to that saint for guidance? My Baptist parents gave both my brother and I Biblical middle names, but I've never felt particularly close to any of the available Johns. The course of one's spirituality seems like it would be impossible to predict at birth.

  3. You're right, Brian, that a person's spirituality cannot be predicted at birth. Part of the mindset behing naming a child after a Saint - or in taking on a Saint's name at Confirmation - is asking the Saint to watch over the child and guide them on the path of discipleship.

  4. That makes more sense. What's funny about this is that the current trend is toward unique names can easily be satisfied from among Catholic saints, though perhaps in terms of social interaction being an Elphage or a Cuthbert isn't a great deal.

    I think the current crop of names will age fine. Names come and go, and my parents had to adjust to the fact I went to school with Nathans and Ronalds.

    The Aztec onomasticon is kind of cool. Xicotencatl, anyone? You even have the ready-made short form of "Xico."

  5. I've always been rather partial to an Aethelred or a Cunnegunda.

  6. Personally, I'm not a fan of some "modern"/trendy names. Still, I wonder if there aren't some holy Tiffanys and Brittanys, as well as devout Jaydens and Lakeishas, who already populate heaven and are not-yet canonized saints. Oscar isn't a popular name in the U.S., but surely there's an Oscar in heaven (Romero) waiting to offer prayers for one's child. If you name your son Mychal, I'm guessing that Fr. Mychal Judge, who died ministering to the firefighters in the Twin Towers, is ready to offer a prayer on his behalf.

  7. Elaine10:10 AM

    If I were naming a new daughter right now I would pick Gianna, after two pro-life heroes of mine: St. Gianna Molla, the Italian doctor who sacrificed her own life to save her unborn baby, and Gianna Jessen, who survived a late term abortion and went on to become a well known Christian singer and speaker. I met Gianna Jessen at a youth rally when she was still a teenager and have always been moved by her story. (She is now in her 30s).

    My daughter is named Celia (short for Cecelia, patron saint of musicians) and chose Michael (as in Michael the Archangel) for her confirmation name. I know that's considered a male name but there are women by that name -- for example, Michael Learned (the mother on "The Waltons") and Michael Sneed (a Chicago Sun-Times columnist).

    Since I'm at an age where it's not likely I'll have any more children, I may have to use Gianna as a pen name or blog name somewhere.